A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Friday, September 22, 2006

There is more than this

In today's first reading (1 Corinthians 15:12-20), St. Paul confronts squarely the question, "What if there is no resurrection of the dead?"

St. Paul reaffirms the reality of the resurrection, earlier in this chapter by citing the eyewitness testimony of those who saw the risen Christ – many of whom were then still alive (including himself) and later in this chapter by referring to the misery of his own labors (in effect saying, why would I go through all this if I did not know for a fact that there is a resurrection?).

There are many today who believe neither in a resurrection from the dead nor in an afterlife of any sort. Such a belief can be a very slippery slope to all sorts of immorality, from might-makes-right to hedonism (as St. Paul says, "If the dead are not raised, 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.'").

Many, many more, of course, believe in an afterlife – and not only primitive, religiously minded people. Even in this scientific age, it requires strong nihilistic discipline to stick consistently to the idea that nothing persists after death.

One might say that it is a natural feature of human consciousness to have a belief in the permanence of that consciousness (to paraphrase Descartes, Cogito ergo ero - I think, therefore I will be).

To put it another way, deep down, each of us has a feeling that "there is more than this": more than the world we see, more than the infinitesimally brief flash which is the human life span, more than what science alone can tell us.

As believers, we would hold that this feeling, this natural part of human consciousness, is part of what St. Augustine described in those wonderful words: "For you have made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee."

The resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ shows us not only that there is indeed more than this, but also shows us the way.

But now Christ has been raised from the dead,
the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

There is more than this, and in Christ we can have it to the full.

And so, as St. Paul says at the very end of this chapter:

But thanks be to God,
who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brethren,
be steadfast, immovable,
always abounding in the work of the Lord,
knowing that in the Lord
your labor is not in vain.